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Wednesday, January 17, 2007
American Idol-atry back in full swing
I caught the last bit of American Idol tonight. Any Idol-aters out there this season? It reminded me all at once why I both love and hate the show. It, too, plays into the Hero paradigm quite profoundly, exposing the core value of American culture: FAME. The deep irony is the way people will completely and utterly humiliate themself and subjec themselves to despairing humiliation for the sake of 30 seconds of so-called Fame.

It's why I'm loading this book into the FARMStrong reading que.

For those of you who are new to the FARM, I want to link back to a couple of posts I made in the last season of American Idol where I tried to create some dialogue to understand what is going on back stage in this television phenomenon. You can read those here and I can't manage to find the other more fun post on how American Idol perfectly demonstrates dysfunctionality in a family system. I'll keep looking.
posted by John David Walt | at 1/17/2007 10:10:00 PM



Blogger Jeremiah said...

I'm afraid the bug has bitten the Aja home as well.
When it came out I coined the show AIdol-atry also...seemed to fit better.
Fame seems to have come at a more expensive cost these days, ya know? Didnt used take quite as much as it does now. Shows like Jacka$$...are you kidding me? They get paid, and paid A LOT, to do things like getting tasered, drinking mass volumes of laxatives, and more absurdity? Happy to say i cannot make the list longer because i have spared my life the waste of time watching either (TWO!) of their movies.
Back to AI...what if people were honest with themselves or even with each other? "bro, you cant really sing, sorry." or "Man, i dont sound all that good...even WITH alcohol." It would save a whole lot of embarassment and humiliation these days. But then again, Fox wouldnt be as profitable, would it?
AI is the classic train wreck you cant turn away from, it really is. Except the difference is, we, or many of us, dont sound any better than the hopeless ones...or to close up the shoddy illustration - we could all be in that same exact trainwreck if we made the choice, right?
Fame is WAY too expensive. Whether it be for 30 seconds or Andy Warhol's estimate of 15 minutes, somebody's cashing in and somebody's payin up. Stay tuned - they go to Memphis next week! ha.

11:46 PM EST  
Blogger wes said...

My dad read that book and found it disgustingly insightful.

I too have a love-hate relationship with it. I don't feel too connected with the characters (contestants), I watch it because it is the world we live in, like it or not. It is simply a talent show, but on the other hand, it is America's talent show. That is why it works, because we have the ultimate say. Is that true about more people voting for idol last year than the 2004 presidential election?? That would be insane.

What is the root of all this fame-seeking stuff?

1:36 AM EST  
Blogger eli said...

don't you think that AI and "fame junkiness" in general is derived from an insidious blend of our perverted wiring for adoration and worship coupled with the ever present desire to control things? even outside of AI the average junkie thinks they determine who is popular and who is out. btw, sports junkies have always had the first ingredient, but fantasy sports have added the second.

8:06 AM EST  
Anonymous chad said...

The wife and I watched last night until Mythbusters came on, and then Idol was our commercial viewing show.

I really always get taken aback at Simon's rudeness. The comment's he made about that one guy looking like a "bush baby" seemed over the line, even for him.

As I wonder about Simon's rudeness (which I would imagine is a pretty big part of the show/ratings), I really think that in the 21st Century in America, one of the key elements that we must remember in holiness is that of kindness.

But once the audition's are all over, Mere and I will probably not watch anymore, since those are our favorite parts

10:55 AM EST  
Blogger ap said...

hi jd,

i love the show--mostly once the hollywood round starts. it is brutal to see some of the people brought down so harshly. it's not the truth that hurts to watch, it's the ridicule. nothing insightful to add here, just a word of solidarity.

11:12 AM EST  
Blogger Meredith said...

Chad and I did succumb to the AI frenzy the other night. It's hard to take this show seriously. The contestants that are unbelievably bad are truly that, unbelievable. There are so many segments and auditions that seem scripted - it is almost unbearable. I think the shows main draw is that it appeals to the everyman - and the 'if he can do it, I can do it' mentality starts to sink in. Especially when people realize that a 30 second audition can be their ticket to 15 minutes of fame.

All that to say, Chad really wants to audition for Nashville Star.

4:08 PM EST  
Anonymous JP said...

10,000 people get weeded down quickly at the first stage - groups of four and you have 30 seconds - they dismiss tons of people very quickly.
Yet because it is TV, they keep an eye out for the oddballs, because it makes for a good show. Imagine those tone-deaf people getting moved on to the next round to actually be before the Big 3...they are manipulated into thinking they actually have a chance, and then get brought down hard.
I think the reason why the first "tryout" shows focus so heavily on the oddballs and people who can't sing is because the viewers want to see them and feel better about themselves, ie, I can't sing, but at least I'm not as bad as that! We want to see who the next William Hung might be!
Once the carnival is over, they'll get on with the talent part.

I watch it because I want to see someone make it through. If I had singing talent and was 10 years younger, I'd go to the tryouts because I'd love to perform. People want a chance to "make it."
Because of the incredible popularity, you don't even have to win anymore to breakthrough - see Clay Aiken, Chris Daughtry, Pickler, etc.
I think it's about connection - people want something to connect to and AI offers something to connect to- these 10 people you can form a "relationship" with and vote for and so forth.

6:27 PM EST  
Blogger JohnDeere said...

good word jp-- re: your ct question-- contact tiffani@christomlin.com and cc me. will not be coming to knoxville.

10:06 PM EST  

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